INTERNATIONAL arrivals must now test negative for Covid before they’re allowed to enter the UK under new lockdown rules, it’s understood.
Only hauliers will be exempt from the strict new rules, set to be put in place as Brits battle a super-infectious mutant strain of the virus.
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Passengers will be required to show a negative result from no more than 72 hours before departure.
However, it’s thought measures could become even tighter and include a second test on arrival.
It comes as Boris Johnson plunged the country into a strict new lockdown, similar to the restrictions put in place in March.
The PM didn’t mention air travel in his sombre address to the nation on Monday night.
But The Times reports that the Government will toughen border controls to limit the number of people coming into the UK with Covid.
The UK is fighting a variation of the virus which is up to 70 per cent more transmissible.
The country’s case rate is around three times higher than it was on December 1 as the mutation bites down in every area.
Meanwhile, the Covid threat level has today moved up to its highest level for the first time ever as the the NHS faces the risk of collapsing.
Under the red level five alert, there is a “material risk” of hospitals being overwhelmed within weeks and stricter social distancing measures being put in place.
And it’s feared a second mutation first seen in South Africa could scupper Britain’s vaccine roll-out.
In an interview on Monday, hours before the new lockdown was announced, he said: “I am incredibly worried about the South African variant – that’s why we took action we did to restrict all flights from South Africa.
“This is a very, very significant problem.
“It is even more of a problem than the UK variant.”
At the weekend, one of the Government’s coronavirus advisers claimed there was a “big question mark” over whether any of the current wave of jabs could protect against it.
Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, says the South African variant was is far more worrisome than the Kent one.
That’s because it has “pretty substantial changes in the structure of the protein”, meaning vaccines could fail to work.
The Government’s plans to enforce testing ahead of arrivals into the UK are thought to be a response to the variant.
Currently, arrivals are required only to complete a passenger locator form and go into quarantine if they arrive from a country which isn’t on the Government’s “travel corridor” list.
But top Tories have demanded action to prevent the importation of further new strains.
Britain banned direct flights from South Africa just before Christmas.
New arrivals have been required to undergo much stricter quarantines.
However, those travelling into the UK indirectly haven’t been required to prove they don’t have the virus.
Senior aviation sources told the Times the Government had planned to “revisit” rules on air travel later this month.
However, surging cases prompted “a hastening in the introduction of measures”.